The question on the appearance of defense witnesses at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is still at the center of the debate in The Hague. In a request lodged before the judges, Emmanuel Altit, Laurent Gbagbo’s lawyer, spoke about the question.
Laurent Gbagbo’s senior attorney, Emmanuel Altit, wishes to see prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s latest request rejected. In fact, in a document filed before the judges, the Gambian jurist expressed the wish to see the defense communicate on its means at the latest by the end of February.
In a response to the prosecution’s request, filed on February 16, the leader of the defense team of the former Ivorian president said the defense needed six months to complete its investigations. According to Altit, this delay is necessary in view of problems raised by Gbagbo’s team.
“Due to the difficulty of conducting investigations in a country where the rule of law is not respected, where political opponents, whether declared or potential, are arrested and detained without a warrant, a country with threats to any potential witness seeking to get in contact with the Defense,” Altit indicates that the period of six months is “incompressible.”
The lawyer representing the former Ivorian president also said that the request made by Bensouda does not meet the rules of the International Criminal Court.
“The Prosecutor’s request to compel the Defense to file a provisional list of witnesses and a provisional list of evidence even before the end of the case of the Prosecution or only two to three weeks after the end of the case. The Prosecution is at odds with the logic of the procedure, which is structured around major procedural steps,” says the French lawyer.
“The Defense must have all final versions of transcripts of hearings. However, to date, the Defense has received the corrected and final version of only 74 French transcripts (out of 220),” comments Altit.
Gbagbo’s counsel adds that the rejection of the prosecution request would contribute to the fairness of the trial. “It would be incomprehensible and it would indeed violate the balance of procedure and call into question the fairness of the trial if the Trial Chamber does not show the Defense the same understanding it has shown to Prosecution. That would means double standards,” says the lawyer in his response.
Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and other inhumane acts, or – in the alternative – attempted murder and persecution. The accused allegedly committed these crimes during post-electoral violence in Côte d’Ivoire between December 16, 2010 and April 12, 2011.
This summary comes from Ivoire Justice, which offers monitoring and commentary on the ICC’s proceedings arising from the post-election violence that occurred in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010-2011. It has been translated into English for use on International Justice Monitor.